Russia withholds bodies of alleged Il-76 crash victims — Ukraine's Defense Intelligence
Russia has not expressed willingness to hand over the bodies of individuals reportedly onboard the crashed Il-76 near Belgorod on January 24
This is according to Andriy Yusov, a representative from Ukraine's Ministry of Defense Intelligence.
Yusov stated, "The claim that our prisoners were on board comes from Russia, and currently, we can only assess based on their statements. There is no indication of readiness from their side to transfer the bodies. Nevertheless, our efforts persist. If the worst is confirmed, we will strive to repatriate our defenders."
Yusov also acknowledged the possibility that the plane might have carried both ammunition and prisoners used as human shields. He criticized Russia's response and the circumstances surrounding the crash as provocative. He highlighted the absence of a declared silence regime over Belgorod and the lack of prior notification from Russia about using air transport for prisoner transportation.
"Given that, according to their account, the plane was one-third full, it could contain supplies, as that was its primary purpose. It might also have held ammunition and people, possibly as a human shield. Therefore, a thorough investigation is necessary, and work in this direction continues," he emphasized.
Russian Il-76 military transport plane crash: Key details
On January 24, a Russian Il-76 military transport plane crashed in the Belgorod region in Russia. The Ministry of Defense of Russia claimed that Ukrainian prisoners of war were supposedly on board, en route to Belgorod for an exchange.
Russian Foreign Ministry head Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia urgently sought a UN Security Council meeting in response to the plane crash, blaming Ukraine. However, France opposed the meeting. The General Staff of the Armed Forces emphasized their control over airspace, tracking missile launch points, logistics of delivery, and vowed to take measures against means of delivery, particularly military transport aircraft.
Ukraine's Main Directorate of Intelligence confirmed the planned prisoner exchange on January 24. They highlighted their lack of reliable information on who was on the plane and how many.
White House National Security Council Coordinator John Kirby mentioned that the U.S. cannot currently confirm the presence of Ukrainian prisoners aboard the Russian Il-76.
On January 25, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced his insistence on an international investigation into the Il-76 military transport plane crash in Russia.